Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Coping with Panic Attacks in Children

Nannies and Au Pairs: Have Your Charges Suffered from Panic Disorder?

Yesterday we asked if nannies and au pairs have cared for children with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Today we ask if in-home childcare providers have ever cared for children with panic disorder.

The key characteristic of panic disorder is recurring panic attacks.

A panic attack is an episode of intense fear and unease, comprised of both physical symptoms and a number of fearful thoughts.

Physical symptoms of a panic attack include increased heart rate and chest pain, choking sensations, difficulty breathing, sweating and trembling, gastrointestinal distress, body temperature changes, hot or cold flushes, dizziness, and numbness or tingling in the limbs. For example, the child might think they are having a heart attack or have diarrhea.

Cognitive symptoms (thoughts), include fear of dying or losing control of one’s mind or self, feeling as if one is in a dream and events seem unreal.

Have you ever cared for a child who suffered from panic attacks or was diagnosed with panic disorder? If so, how did you help the child?


Anonymous said...

OMG I think that might be happening to the 6 yr old. She always has the runs in the potty when she is nervous. She has missed school when her chest was pounding so hard she thought she was having a heart attack. She gets upset tummy all the time. She feels like fainting if use escalator or elavator. I must research this.

Anonymous said...

I had many panic attacks growing up. I can tell you it is suffering like nothing else. My parents didn't know how to treat it and actually got annoyed with me and my anxiety which made the whole thing worse. I have felt like I was having a heart attack. I had diaerrhia growing up ten times a day. By high school I didn't hand in some homework to afraid of failure. Trouble making phone calls.

Anyway, I think the problem is that medicating children is controversial. Meds have saved my life but kids are worried and I think it is harder for parents to realize that they might have panic disorder, not just regular worrying.

Anonymous said...

I think it is nearly impossible for a child to be less anxious if they have a parent that is anxious. They take on the behavior, mannerisms, and thinking of their parents. Even subtle anxious behavior. So, if the parents are in denial about themselves then unlikely they will see it in their kids. It's always easier to see the problems from the outside in. I was not able to convince one famiily that their kid seemsed that not only was he having panic attacks and not as physically sick as he claimed (but experiencing physical synmptoms of worry) and signs he has obsessive complusive behaviors too. Hopefully school will pick it up since I don't work with them anymore. But unlikely school will pick up on it because teachers are too busy. Virginia Contee, Westerville, OH